Post-Brexit checks on pets travelling into North to be suspended

Grace period extended while negotiations continue between UK and EU on protocol

New arrangements for bringing pets and assistance dogs to Northern Ireland from Great Britain came into force on January 1st but have not been implemented.  Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

New arrangements for bringing pets and assistance dogs to Northern Ireland from Great Britain came into force on January 1st but have not been implemented. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

Post-Brexit checks on pets travelling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland are to be suspended indefinitely.

Northern Ireland’s Minister for Agriculture, the DUP Assembly member Edwin Poots, announced on Wednesday that he was extending the grace period in force until October 1st while negotiations continue between the UK and EU on the Northern Ireland protocol.

The protocol avoids a hard border on the island of Ireland by placing the customs and regulatory barrier between the EU and the UK in the Irish Sea.

New arrangements for bringing pets and assistance dogs to Northern Ireland from Great Britain came into force on January 1st but have not been implemented.

The UK has Part 2 listed status under the EU Pet Travel Scheme, which means that pet dogs, cats and ferrets, and assistance dogs travelling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland must have an Animal Health Certificate (AHC) from a vet and arrive through an official point of entry.

They must also be vaccinated against rabies and dogs treated for tapeworm. Neither disease is present on the island of Ireland.

Mr Poots said he was “not prepared to let people travelling with pets between GB and NI deal with the ongoing uncertainty around checks and whether or not they need to vaccinate their animal for diseases that are all but eradicated here.”

Meanwhile, John Martin, politicy manager of the Road Haulage Association (RHA) told a Stormont committee on Wednesday that the logistics industry in Northern Ireland has been “blown apart” by post-Brexit trading arrangements.

Representatives from haulage firms in the North were giving evidence on the impact of the protocol.

Mark Tait of Target Transport said the impact on his company was such that he was “seriously considering” the future of the business. “Whether or not we continue after the end of this year will depend on what comes in the next few months between the UK and the EU.”

He said the “bureaucracy that we face as a small, family-run company is getting to the stage where it’s almost unsustainable for us.

“We know there is possibly more coming down the pipeline when the grace periods end and I don’t think we can possibly cope with that.”

Geoff Potter of trailer manufacturer Gray & Adams, which has bases in Scotland, England and Northern Ireland, said 90 per cent of its business was either within Northern Ireland or with Great Britain and it had been a “lose-lose scenario” under a system which was “dysfunctional, bureaucratic and unsustainable in the longer term.”

The hauliers acknowledged that businesses which traded with the EU had benefited under the protocol, and welcomed the UK government’s July Command Paper as a framework for progress.

Peter Summerton of McCulla Ireland Ltd said international rules had been applied to a domestic integrated supply chain which “increases time, increases cost, increases complexity.”

He called for a move towards “mutual enforcement” as the “only way” to resolve these issues.

Also giving evidence on Wednesday were representatives from the Ulster Farmers Union (UFU).

They said there were outstanding issues around the importation of sheep from Scotland, livestock identification and the requirement for a six-month residency period for pedigree cattle coming from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.